The 2016 MacBook Pro has endured criticism for its lack of I/O ports, but what that it does have — two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports based on your configuration — has lots of potential. For example, it’s now possible to connect an external GPU (eGPU) box via Thunderbolt 3 and tap into the power offered by a full-sized graphics card.
In this hands-on post, we’re going to showcase how to power the 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with an eGPU using Sapphire’s AMD RX 480. The RX 480 is modestly-priced GPU with a decent amount of power that’s good enough for 1080p gaming. The connection is made possible by means of the Akitio Node — an external GPU box with an embedded 400W power supply, and enough room inside for a full sized card like the RX 480.
The nice folks at Akitio provided us with an early unit for testing with macOS. Unlike Akitio’s other Thunderbolt 3-enabled enclosures, the Node features the newer Texas Instruments TI83 controller and is immediately recognized in macOS. While that makes for one less hurdle to clear, there are still lots of factors to consider before taking the eGPU plunge.
As you’ll see in this post, the setup takes some effort to get right, but it’s fairly simple to get working if you follow the steps correctly. If you’re a Mac gamer or video editor, then the benefits are very apparent, especially if you’re using a MacBook Pro with an integrated Intel Iris GPU like the 13-inch 2016 model. Have a look at our full hands-on video walkthrough for our step-by-step guide through the setup process. expand full story